Revisiting iGoogle

igoogle Like most people who spend a lot of time online, I sign up for new services all the time. Some of them I end up liking quite a bit and using regularly (such as Twitter, obviously) while others I just forget about. Until recently, iGoogle was firmly in the latter category.

iGoogle launched in May 2005, according to Wikipedia. I’m not sure when I signed up, but it likely wasn’t long after that. As you probably know, iGoogle features gadgets that you can drag around the page. Each gadget has a specific purpose – for example, a weather gadget or a calendar gadget.

Three things prompted me to give iGoogle another shot. Many of my coworkers use iGoogle as their homepage, and I kept noticing it during LiveMeetings and such. The second thing was Sharon talking about her favorite iGoogle theme (she calls it “so cute!”). And finally, Google launched an update today:

Google’s startpage, iGoogle, is spreading its wings. Today it is rolling out a new design that shifts tabs to a column on the left so that more Google gadgets and sources of content can be accommodated. But the biggest change is the ability for content partners and developers to expand each gadget to take up nearly the whole page.

Since I only used the old version a couple of times, I can’t really say whether or not the new release is a step forward or backward. I can say that I like it though! The only hiccup at the moment is that dragging gadgets around using Opera 9.6 doesn’t seem to work properly.

I’m giving iGoogle a real chance this time, and I’ve made it my homepage. Any amazing gadgets I should add? All the ones I have right now are fairly mainstream, such as the Google Calendar gadget or the Weather gadget.

  • Gordon

    The real seller for iGoogle to me, was the Google Reader gadget. In one foul swoop, I took ALL my web browsing down to one page.
    iGoogle can parse RSS feeds into custom gadgets, which is really sweet.

    If there are Feeds which update less often, I use Google Reader. It checks all of my web-comic and blog feeds at once, updating as their RSS is fed with a mail-like client. That gadget gets prime real estate on my iGoogle page.

    Otherwise iGoogle hosts RSS gadgets for the following sites I frequent, mostly eliminating my need to go to them at all:
    Gmail
    Facebook
    Google Calendar
    BeTwittered
    ToDo list
    SportsScores (customizable for league and teams)
    Google News Canada
    Google News World

    I have a second iGoogle tab for entertainment reading:
    Digg
    Engadget
    Rotten Tomatoes
    Fark
    Boingboing

    Now if only they’d put the tabs back on top, and give me my screen real-estate back.

  • Andrea

    I love my Gmail and Google Calendar but I’m not sure if you use it. I also like the Google Finance Market Summary gadget. It’s pretty basic, but it keeps track of the how the markets are doing (on a downward slide). Oh, and I’ve added a lot of games like Sudoku, Battleship and Bejeweled. You should make a better NHL Scoreboard gadget. None of them are good but it’s better than nothing.

    Oh, and I love iGoogle’s season themes too!

  • Andrea

    Gord’s right. I use it for my RSS feeds too.

  • Gordon

    Also, you can share iGoogle gadgets with other people you have in your Gmail address book.

    Also, I read there are plans to incorporate Gtalk into iGoogle, thereby unifying iGoogle and Gmail.

  • So far I have a second tab for Finance stuff – I’ve been paying way more attention lately.

    I’m not sure how useful the Google Reader gadget is for me, since I always have Google Reader open in a Chrome window anyway. I have it on my page for now though.

    I like the Google Calendar gadget best – I sync it from my Exchange calendar. Works very well.

  • I, like most, use the Google Reader gadget, plus I also use the Google Bookmark gadget since I so often use various computers it is handy to have all my bookmarks available when I log in. I find the Google Service gadget useful to find out what new services Google releases.

  • Hmm the Google Service one sounds interesting. I’ve just added Delicious (for my bookmarks) and Remember The Milk (for tasks).

  • I heard about the updates to iGoogle and tried it out yesterday. It’s kind of neat but the biggest problem I have with it is that when you switch into “canvas view” it effectively logs you out of google talk and only when you switch back to the home view or into the googletalk gadget does it log you back in.

  • While I sort of preferred the previous version of iGoogle (this new left-hand sidebar just takes up screen real estate, in my opinion), I do like that the Gmail gadget has been updated to allow me to delete, archive, and otherwise manage my email without having to click through to my inbox.

  • I read about a site on John Chow today called http://www.43marks.com – its like Igoogle but better cuz you can add you own bookmarks and the bookmarks can be websites not just gadgets and RSS feeds although you can upload your favorite RSS feeds too. Its free and totally customizable. Plus you don’t have to login to see your bookmars and RSS feeds

  • Gordon

    I’m probably late enough to the party that people won’t see my comment (aside from Mack), but there’s now a Greasemonkey script which will remove the left hand tab, for those of us who were disappointed by it’s inclusion.
    http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/31715
    It does include a toggle switch, in case you want to switch tabs.

  • @Gordon: Thanks for that! Oddly enough, though, the left hand tab is no longer showing up for me. I’m now seeing the “old” version of iGoogle. Very strange.